IEF Secretary General, Dr Sun Xiansheng joined ministers, captains of industry and senior officials in the 23rd World Energy Congress (WEC) that took place on 9-13 October 2016 in Istanbul. As well as taking part in the high-level plenary discussions, Dr Sun moderated one of the key panel discussions on China’s Energy Outlook to 2060 with Dr Kang Yanbing, Director, Energy Sustainability Center, Energy Research Institute (ERI), Beijing, Dr Jianyu Zhang, Managing Director, China Program, Environmental Defense Fund (EDF), Beijing, and Mr Leslie Maasdorp, Vice President and Chief Financial Officer, New Development Bank (NDB), Shanghai as panellists.
Key questions addressed by the panel focused on what China's energy landscape will look like in 2060, whether there is a change or a refocus of China's energy ambitions, and the key drivers and uncertainties that shall determine China's future energy mix. The panel also focused on the role that China can be expected to play in global energy governance in the coming decades to help achieve trade and resource objectives.
Dr Sun highlighted the 3+3 challenges that the world must meet. On a global level these relate to 1) economic growth and development, 2) climate change, and 3) transition towards greater sustainability. Viewed through the prism of the energy sector these require increased dialogue among governments and private sector stakeholders, to 1) moderate and respond to energy market fluctuations, 2) reduce energy sector emissions and local pollutions, and, 3) achieve universal access to sustainable energies.
Dr Kang Yanbing provided important insights into energy transition in China. He noted that despite the recent slow-down, China still faces rapid economic growth, as the fact that every two years rural-urban migration amounts to the same number of persons as about the total population of Australia, close to 24 million, illustrates. While coal still is the mainstay of the Chinese energy mix, China is also the world leader in renewable energy deployment accounting for 40% of global investment and a key player in global energy transition as the world's second largest economy. Dr Yanbing further noted that China's energy transition will be driven by diversification, decarbonisation, electrification and decentralisation. Low carbon energy consumption in China, will in large part depend on adequate policies and price mechanisms for which international dialogue and cooperation is key.
Mr Leslie Maasdorp focused on the reform of energy infrastructure investment by multilateral organisations, noting that reform of Bretton Woods institutions has been slow compared to the rapid pace of change provided by the rise of major growth economies and other global shifts. BRICs represent 25% of economic growth but have a voting right of only 12% in these institutions. China leads a major effort to adjust this imbalance and improve the productivity of multilateral lending institutions through the New Development Bank, to which membership is open to all UN members, and that already includes many OECD countries.
Dr Jianyu Zhang placed emphasis on China’s commitment to peak emissions by 2030 noting that the quality and level of this peak will be a key determinant for transition. While the most important objective is fostering balanced economic development to lift people out of poverty, reducing air pollution and increasing sustainability is key, as is illustrated by the successful efforts in respect of the desulphurisation of the power sector in China.